Last week, I started “Girls Call Murder,” a tumblr account for the visual aspects of my life: stills from my favorite films, and my drawings. Its name is an interpolation of a Liz Phair song that talks about all the (bad) things a girl can and should get away with.
Before I was reborn as a girl-writer, I was a fanboy: as much as I had always wanted to grow up to be a writer, I also wanted to grow up to be a comic book artist. As a kid, I was obsessed with bands of spandexed mutants and genetically altered: X-Men, Teen Titans, Doom Patrol, New Mutants. But even that fanboydom was influenced by my inert femininity, since I was drawn to those superpowered bands by their girl members. My favorite: Starfire, the 7-ft alien princess whose hair made a trail as she flew, who had neither irises nor pupils in her eyes but who cried bucketfuls as if she were a refugee from a girl’s romance comic. This seemed a natural extension of my love of drawing, as I learned to draw by copying the first pictures my artist mother ever drew for me: when I was around six, at my request, she filled a small notebook with varying renderings of Wonder Woman. So I developed my drawing skill by drawing mutant gals endlessly, oblivious that the huge jugs I gave them to match their huge star-filled eyes had any other function than make them look beautiful in their armor.
Now I am one of those narcissistic drawers of limited talent and depth who can only draw his own body. But when I was young, I used to draw other people: beautiful girls and cute boys, because my own body made no sense to me. I looked in the mirror and it looked like a Pollockian jumble of molten mess. That was not my drawing sense. I preferred the cutting accuracy of a pen tip the width of a sewing needle. I didn’t want to draw with cans of paint orphaned from brush sets. I drew bodies that I wanted to surround me (dreamy-eyed boys) and bodies that were enmolded within the mess of my actual flesh (dreamy-eyed girls).
But the decades have dried up the silt around me and it’s been cracked off on jackhammered by my own growing confidence in the mess of my insides. So I think of my drawing-manifested narcissism as something hard-earned. My body is finally worthy of rendering and fiction. I am more emboldened to draw myself, not only as I see myself now, but as I hope to be, and as I will be, hopefully. The natural two-inch growth of my hair may be no big thing to the cells of my body but it is a great achievement to my emotions that constantly wait for the humiliation and petting approval of my cells.